Dividing seas of words: How bilingual input shapes early language acquisition

Nuria Sebastian-Galles, Centre for Brain and Cognition, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Within a few months of life, infants establish the phonological properties of their input language and discover the first words, among other exceptional achievements. Infants exposed to multilingual environments develop specific strategies to achieve the same language development milestones at equivalent pace than infants exposed to just one language. In this presentation I will overview the state of the art in early bilingual development and focus on recent research with multimodal information.



Nuria Sebastian-Galles received her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Barcelona in 1986. After Post-doctoral training at the Max Plank Institute and the LSCP-CNRS in Paris, she was appointed as Associate Professor at the Faculty of Psychology (University of Barcelona) in 1988, where she was promoted to Full Professor in 2002. In 2009 she moved to the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. She has been Visiting Scholar at several research Centers, including the IRCS at Univ. of Pennsylvania, the ICN at the Univ. College (London) and the University of Chicago (in 2010).

She has received international recognition as shown by a James S. McDonnell Foundation Award (“Bridging Mind, Brain and Behavior” Program) in 2001 and gave the Nijmegen Lectures in 2005. In 2009 and in 2013 she was awarded the ICREA Academia Prize established by the Catalan Government. She was member of the advisory group of the “Brain and Learning” initiative of the OECD from 2002 to 2006. In 2016 she was elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. At present she is the vice-president of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council.

She leads the SAP Research Group (Speech Acquisition and Perception) at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

She has coordinated a Consolider-Ingenio 2010 research consortium investigating Bilingualism and Cognitive Neuroscience (BRAINGLOT). One of her current research projects is an ERC Advanced Grant (Under Control) investigating the relationship between attention and language development.

She has authored over 90 publications in international journals (including Science, PNAS, The Journal of Neuroscience, among others). She was the Associate Editor of Developmental Science (2005-2013). She is the Associate Editor of Language Learning Development (2013-), Editor of the Cognitive Neuroscience Series of Language Learning and member of numerous editorial boards including Bilingualism, Language and Cognition and Trends in Neuroscience and Education.

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